How to Clean Makeup Brushes the Easy Way

Dirty makeup brushes can cause a host of problems, including skin irritation and uneven makeup. Learn how to clean makeup brushes quickly and effectively to keep them (and your skin) in tip-top shape from the people who know best--makeup artists. Luckily, keeping your makeup brushes clean doesn't have to be a chore. We asked the pros for their advice on how to clean makeup brushes, and their tips are remarkably simple.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Makeup Brushes

  1. Keep your makeup brush cleanser simple. Skip the expensive makeup brush cleansers. Unless you use a variety of eyeshadows and only one or two brushes, you probably don't need a brush cleaner, makeup artist Jamie Greenberg says. Most people need only a basic bar soap, such as Ivory, to get the job done. A dedicated brush cleanser (such as Parian Spirit, $18,, which Angella Valentine, key makeup artist for Late Night with Seth Meyers, uses when working with guests on the show, is more of a "clean-as-you-go product" to quickly remove color from brushes before dipping them in another compact. 
  2. Swirl the makeup brush under the faucet onto a bar of soap. Work out the oils or colors onto the bar until the water runs clear.
  3. Rinse lightly until all the soap is gone. 
  4. Dry your brushes carefully. After rinsing your brushes of soap residue, reshape the brush hairs and lay them on a towel to dry. Standing them up in a cup or storage container can cause the water to drip down the brush, which Greenberg says will rust the ferrule or rot the wooden handle. It could take several hours for them to dry completely, so plan to wash your makeup brushes in the evening and let them dry flat overnight.

More Tips for Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes

How often should you wash your makeup brushes? Greenberg recommends cleaning makeup brushes once a week, or, at the very least, once a month.

How do I know when it's time to clean my makeup brushes? Grab a mirror. Brushes overdue for a sudsing might have caused that bothersome blemish on your cheek. Dirty makeup brushes could also be the reason your blush has been looking blotchy and your eyeshadow refuses to blend. According to Valentine, clean brush hair adheres to product better, resulting in a more even distribution of color.

What kind of makeup brushes do I need? The more you care for your makeup brushes, the longer they'll last, but we'll remind you again. And if you're diligent about keeping them clean, you can feel good about spending a few extra dollars on high-quality brushes that might do a better job of applying makeup than their inexpensive counterparts. 

Learn more about the five makeup brushes you REALLY need.


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